Vietnam’s strong appetite for wildlife products has been changed in recent years thanks to many campaigns launched by governmental agencies and advocacy groups, according to counter-trafficking organization Freeland.
“As two of the world’s foremost markets for rare species products, Vietnam and the US have contributed significant resources to demand reduction in the region,” the organization said in a statement released at a seminar on the issue on March 30.
Recent activities included USAID ARREST Program, which provided funds and resources, and Operation Game Change, a public-private sector initiative that brings wildlife range and consumer countries together to stop cross-border illegal wildlife trade. Operation Game Change initiative included the outdoor film and music festival WildFest, Vietnam’s largest wildlife conservation awareness-raising event to date.
“Wildlife trafficking will remain a major global threat to species loss, ecosystem degradation, human health and security unless we work collaboratively with stakeholders and as one community,” US Ambassador to Vietnam Ted Osius said at the seminar that attracted 25 Vietnam-based civil society and government organizations.
According to Steven Galster, Freeland’s executive director and founder, changing centuries-old consumer behavior and countering clever marketing techniques employed by criminal organizations requires a smart strong and long term behavior change campaign.
“The seminar on wildlife demand reduction efforts in Vietnam was a great step in the direction of crafting a broad-based alliance of civil society organizations and government agencies that can use rich data and state-of-the-art methods to convince Vietnamese to refrain from purchasing rhino horn, tiger bone, pangolin and other rare and endangered wildlife,” he said.